‘Big Mouth’ has become one of TV’s most essential comedies
I’ve spent the past year explaining to all my friends why one of my Spotify playlists is titled “I Threw Away The Scallops”, and with the arrival of Big Mouth season 2 on Netflix comes a host of bizarre new references for me to regurgitate. After a batch of Bojack Horseman so underwhelming I didn’t even bother reviewing it, the world needed an insightful, unpredictable cartoon comedy to ease the arrival of the winter months. The absolutely ingenious Big Mouth is just that.
As an individual far closer in age to Big Mouth’s protagonists than the writers and stars of the show, you’d think I would spend much of the series criticising anachronisms in how it depicts the life of a young teen in the 2010s, yet Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg and co. have clearly done their research: Big Mouth is terrifyingly on-point (so much so that some friends of mine experienced too much PTSD to comfortably watch it). Observations on the psychology of modern dating culture are depicted with brilliant visual imagination: central character Nick (Kroll essentially as his younger self) sends a flirtatious text and the ‘Typing’ bubbles on his phone immediately start yelling in both panic and encouragement.
Yet Big Mouth never indulges or feels satisfied in simply being #Relatable; it pulls the (in my case, at least) young male viewer from our comfortable LOLing, with revelations on the male gaze and failure to empathise with the female characters: multiple episodes of Nick and Andrew (John Mulaney) worrying about masturbation are disrupted by their friend Jessi’s descent into depression, the audience cleverly blindsided just as the characters are by the manic colour of sexual awakening. Joining hormone monsters Maurice and Connie this season are veteran and rookie Rick and Tyler, two spectacularly well-realised characters. Also in this category is Coach Steve, the naive gym teacher who loses his virginity — mid 40s — this season in a weirdly affecting episode. Along with so many other characters, his voice — also provided by Kroll — is the key to his brilliance, and can’t exactly be described in writing. Just go watch the show. The flashiest of the new characters — also perfectly realised — is The Shame Wizard, seeing David Thewlis do a crasser spin on his Fargo character.
Big Mouth is relentlessly funny in a way even the best of Family Guy has never been. It’s up with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on the laughs-per-minute count of recent shows, but is somehow more impressive given the profound importance of its educational angle. I argued that season 1 should be shown in school sex ed classes. I believe season 2 should be mandatory viewing for everyone. This show just achieved greatness. And that’s not even a euphamism for anything.